The women keep silent vigil,
watching over the sagging, twisted body
hanging limply now upon the cross.
Light and life and breath are gone from his frame.
Stillness reigns, bringing with it
relief from the heavy horror of the day’s events.
Joseph of Arimathea bravely declares himself,
claiming in death what he had feared in life.
He unfastens the broken body from the crossbeam,
careful not to further wound
the flesh so bruised and torn by nails.
What reverence for the tabernacle
that gave human form to God!
Mary cradles her son in her arms as she so often had
when he laid his soft infant cheek upon her breast.
Her hand gently caresses the bloodied, cold brow
and tenderly closes the sightless eyes
before she gives him over to the grave.
(Mary, what were your thoughts then?
Did your son’s words of life and resurrection
echo in your ears?
Beneath your grief and sorrow,
did hope that he might rise and live again
stir deeply in your mother’s heart
and sustain you in quiet expectation?)
Now he rests from salvation’s work and pain,
the sleep of death upon him as he’s enshrouded in linen.
Sweet spices surround and perfume his wounded corpse.
Darkness falls as the stone is rolled in place.
Yet a deeper darkness invades and fills the rock-hewn sepulchre,
reaching into its narrow confines
and encircling the body it now holds as in a womb.
Soon morning light will dawn upon the stone-cold tomb,
warming its icy hardness.
But greater light shines from within,
glowing and pulsing with new life and waiting to find release.
No guard set there to vigilantly keep watch
(and hold death within its chamber)
will stay his power to burst forth.
For he has torn, that he may heal us;
he has stricken, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him. . . .
His going forth is as sure as the dawn.
– Hosea 6:1-3
O Sun of Righteousness,
night’s shadows must fade before the glory of your rising
Triumph now over death’s dark domain,
and spread the radiance of your newly-won dominion over us!
Copyright (c) 1998, 2004 by Jeanne Kun
Top image: The Entombment of Christ, painting attributed to Giuseppe Vermiglio, by El Greco, 1585–1635 In the public domain.
From the series: Awakened to Eternity: A spiritual journey of poems reflecting on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, by Jeanne Kun
Follow links to other poems in this series:
Jeanne Kun is a noted author, and a member of Bethany Association, an international, ecumenical association of women living single for the Lord in various communities of The Sword of the Spirit, and a senior woman leader in the Word of Life Community, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.